Help mixing drums

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Spawndn72, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Spawndn72

    Spawndn72 Member

    Feb 17, 2014
    First of all let me say that I am very new to all of this but have found it very interesting.

    My 12 year old daughter has been taking drum lessons for the last three years and is to the point that she can play along with several songs.
    She learned to play "Hotel California" and I did the best I could recording it as a birthday present for my father who loves The Eagles.
    I recording her playing and then dubbed the real song over her and it turned out reasonably well.

    I would like to continue doing these little project with her and we had a lot of fun playing with them.

    My current setup is an Audix DP quad set of mics which includes:
    1 X I5 snare mic
    1 X D6 kick mic
    2 X ADX51 overhead mics which I ran in a XY pair.

    And a Tascam US-800 interface all going into garageband '09.

    I have a Focusrite 18i20 on order as I am afraid that the Tascam is not going to work with newer software since Tascam has discontinued it and no longer supports it.

    That is the background, now onto the questions:

    • Is garageband adequate for recording and mixing drums?
    • Any tips for mixing drums in garageband with my mic setup (compression, eq, gates, etc)
    • If I were to upgrade to a new DAW what would be a good choice for what I am doing?

    I am having a hard time finding tutorials or videos for my specific setup. Most garageband tutorials are for mixing virtual drums and most acoustic drum mixing tutorials are for 8+ mics.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Feb 13, 2009
    If you're just doing it for fun, what you're doing now is perfectly good. The Tascam and Garageband are decent equipment for starting out, especially if it's just for fun. So I'd say chances are you'd get more value from using what you've got and focusing on the importance and ins and outs of drum tuning, drum position in the room, and mic placement, etc.. As for mixing, practice practice practice. Then repeat. A different DAW or consumer level interface won't make much of a difference to the sound.

    IIRC, Garageband doesn't let you play around with the plug in settings much, so if that's the point of upgrading the DAW, then in your position I'd get Studio One Free. PreSonus | Studio One - Start Free, Go Pro Unlimited tracks, and there are plenty of free plugins out there on the web to experiment with and learn from. Later on, if you decide you really want to go whole hog, you can upgrade everything, but you'll be in a way better position to know what you really need and spend your money wisely.

    As for tutorials, Google the Glyn Johns method. He was good. He used 4 mics. Also google 'recorderman drum mic technique' - that method only uses 2 mics. Try it; the more you try, the more you learn. [h=1][/h]
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2013
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    A great sound comes from a well tuned and well sounding instrument, in a good sounding room, with the right choice of mics and placement, with accurate preamps and good gain staging. With a good recording recipe, mixing becomes simplified.

    Play with what you got. post samples, we will help you get there ;)
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Recortding and Mixing drums isn't as hard as people make it out to be. I've had far more hair pulling moments with guitars. ;)

    As PC said, start with a nice kit, properly tuned, in a decent room, and you've got most of it handled at that point.

    Different heads will give different results... coated Ambassadors will sound much different tonally - "warmer", less "click" and presence than pinstripe clears. Stay away from black dots.

    Experiment a bit with mic placement, and know that you can change the tonal characteristics fairly dramatically by moving the mics not all that much.

    Experiment with height of your stereo pair. Try different takes with X/Y, Spaced and M-S. (M-S requires some phase reversal, you can look it up) If you have a good sounding room, consider placing a room mic back from the kit by several feet. Try Omni, Figure 8 and Cardioid if you have that ability.

    Use compression sparingly at first, just enough to tame transients. Research the frequency ranges of the various kit pieces... as there's no effective purpose served by adding something like 60 -80Hz to an instrument that only produces frequencies down to 125, 250, 300, whatever...

    Don't Over-Compress! This is the number one mistake that most new recordists make. If your room sounds good, try to use the natural ambiance to your advantage before you start adding artificial reflection with verb or delay.

    If you are going for an authentic sound, the drums in Hotel California are classic Bill Szymczyk ... very dry, very tight sounding.

    You learn by actually doing. Research is good, and we're here to help, but actually doing things yourself will teach you the most.
    niclaus likes this.
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